It's a common pitfall of life as a member of the sandwich generation: adult children who dedicate their child-raising years to giving their offspring a life where they are free to make choices according to their individual interests and callings, instilling in them a sense of purpose, proceed in the opposite direction where their aging parents are concerned. Too often they forget that senior empowerment is just as important as child and adolescent empowerment.
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What is Senior Empowerment?
Senior empowerment is based on maintaining normalcy, the right to carry on their lives as they always have, within reason of course. Now we all know that what is normal for person A may be viewed with disbelief by person B.
- How can she wait until 11 for her first meal of the day?
- Why does he prefer reading the newspaper on the terrace rather than watching the morning news report on the giant flat screen TV in the community room?
- Yoga at her age?
In other words, one facet of senior empowerment, perhaps the most important facet, is the right to make decisions. Notice we didn't say be allowed to make decisions. The word allowed is anathema to the concept of empowered living for seniors.
Allowed vs Empowered
Being allowed takes us back to childhood where we were not deemed capable of making our own decisions. It implies a need to seek permission. Empowerment gives the individual the right to make their own daily decisions, just as they have been doing since reaching maturity. While being allowed may sound perfectly innocuous to those of us in the work-a-day world, it diminishes the perceived capacity of elders, and suggests they really have no say in how they live their lives. Just because someone is living in a senior community doesn't mean they can't make decisions for herself.
Choice vs Decision
And while we're on the subject of words, notice we said decide rather than choose. Choice is important, but in an empowering environment, the possible choices should be determined by the seniors themselves. Elders are empowered when they are able to determine their own possible choices based on their appropriateness in everyday situations.
Empowerment in Action
Being empowered starts with the basics of everyday living - when to get up, what to have for breakfast, and where to have it. It's also about having meaningful conversations in informal settings rather than being funneled into planned activities.
Fortunately, there are living options based on empowerment for today's seniors who wish to shed themselves of the burdens of home ownership. Many of today's adult communities offer a continuum of facilities ranging from independent living to memory care for those living with Alzheimer's or dementia. And even better, many are dedicated to providing an empowering environment for all their residents, no matter what their level of independence.
Throughout our lives, meals serve as the framework for each day, and so, realizing the importance of maintaining normalcy, such communities have done away with rigid serving schedules. Residents have total control over when they dine, how often, and at larger facilities, even where. Menu selections are many and varied, and many even accommodate special orders.
Empowerment goes hand in hand with being a part of a vital community. One of the things seniors most fear about leaving their homes is a sense of being uprooted. They need not fear when they decide upon an empowering adult environment where each day offers a wealth of activities and events to satisfy their physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs.
The Empowerment of Making an Informed Decision
It should go without saying that anyone who has decided upon entering such a new chapter of their lives needs to thoroughly research and visit a number of adult communities in their area. Jacaranda Trace in Venice, Florida invites seniors and their family members to schedule a tour at their convenience, and to ask all the questions that go into making an informed decision.